Social Platforms vs. Communities – Know The Difference or Fail

Have you been poked yet? Facebook t shirtTwitter is a platform (with etiquette, but still a platform). It is home to a number of broad and niche communities. Ditto Facebook. They both provide users with a set of tools and things they can do.

Digg is both a platform and a community, but Pligg is a platform and Sphinn is a community. SEO ROI Services is a WordPress blog that lets me feel important. LOL ;).

Who does this?

Many internet marketing and interactive marketing conferences, “experts,” whitepapers and so on blather about the need to promote yourself amongst social communities… and then point you in the direction of sites that are platforms rather than communities.

Copy reads something like, “In this new world of Web 2.0, companies need to promote themselves in the social networking communities like Facebook.” Go ahead, promote yourself to Facebook. I dare ya. See if it hugs you back.

Here’s an example, hattip to Michael Gray’s post, who would likely explain the differences to the job poster and get a good SMO/SMM strategy in place. http://jobview.monster.com/GetJob.aspx?JobID=74476781

What’s the difference and how can it help you?

The difference is that a platform offers functionality while a community has shared characteristics like interests, beliefs etc.

The way it can help you is by making you adapt your marketing tactics (not strategies).

For example, trying to create something that will spread virally within a platform is quite different than trying to go viral within a community. The one requires technical knowledge while the other requires audience knowledge. Sites like Digg that let you shout stuff combine the two – aiming to have an influencer shout something can be based on seeing what they’ve shouted in the past and creating related content then emailing them to request that they shout it.

Another perspective is that many application developers on Facebook advertise their apps in order to gain adoption. They also they measure ROI based on projected ad revenue from the app.

A third notice is that trying to create linkbait for “Facebook” generally is silly, because Facebook users are so diverse. You can try and do it for communities within Facebook (e.g. Female Backstreet Boys fans 20 – 30) and push it through Facebook’s ad network, and built in a pass-along incentive (“If you don’t share this with at least two girlfriends, you will have bad luck with romance 4ever.”)

Image credit: http://www.befitwithbiray.com/

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